Fire station improvements among top Goffstown issues
GOFFSTOWN — When voters go to the polls today, they will be asked to approve a $19.5 million town budget, several warrant articles, zoning amendments and $4.5 million for fire station improvements.
Voting takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Bartlett Elementary School for District 5 voters and Goffstown High School for District 1.
If approved, the fire station improvement bond, Warrant 18, would renovate the town’s three stations on Tirrell Hill Road, Church Road and Mast Road, and provide more space for modern equipment, office and training areas, remove contamination from radon and arsenic in the water system, and ensure facilities are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. The bond would include the design and construction costs, equipment, furnishing and a contingency. Warrant 18 needs a three-fifths ballot vote to pass.
At the Church Street station, fire vehicles have limited clearance when exiting and entering the bays — the ambulance has about 1½ inches on either sides, and the fire engine has a 4-inch clearance under the bay door.
“It’s 9 feet, 6 inches with a 10-foot clearance. Sometimes the antennae gets bent on the way in,” said Goffstown Fire Chief Richard O’Brien. “Years ago, fire departments had a pump, hose wagon and a ladder truck, but now modern apparatus is a combined unit with ladder, hose and water in one vehicle.”
The stations are also lacking in energy efficiency, with fuel costs at about $300,000 per year and $19,000 for electricity for the three stations.
“We converted portions of the (Church Street) station to propane heat but when you don’t have insulation it results in heat loss,” he said.
Although space and aging facilities are an issue, residential developments and senior citizens have also increased call volumes.
“The aging population increases calls for medical (assistance) but also small fires and alarm activations,” said O’Brien.
The proposed $4.5 million fire station improvement warrant would also authorize selectmen to apply for grants to offset project costs, and apply $65,000 in revenues from public safety impact fees.
If the $19,580,945 operating budget and warrant articles 26, 27, 28 and 29 are approved, the total 2014 projected tax rate would be $9.42 per $1,000 property valuation, a decrease of 30 cents, or $70 less in taxes for a $250,000 home. If the proposed budget fails, the default budget would be $19,596,061. The budget increases are mainly due to insurance costs, fuel and electricity and wages, selectmen said.
Warrant 26 seeks $100,000 for the Fire Department’s Apparatus Capital Fund. Warrant 27 is asking for $20,000 to support the Goffstown Main Street Program. Warrant 28 is $20,000 to support Crispin’s House Coalition for Youth. Warrant 29 is asking for $5,050 to support the Goffstown Waterway Association’s effort to manage milfoil in Glen Lake.
Several articles that will not impact the tax rate because money will come from reserve accounts or unassigned balance funds include $80,000 to reconstruct the Pleasant Street Bridge sidewalk and underlying structure; $73,000 for the Tyler Drive detention pond and the Maple Avenue/Smith Road treatment swale; $40,000 to replace an existing stair lift with an ADA-compliant vertical lift at Town Hall; $34,999 to paint and repair the exterior of the library; $75,000 to upgrade the computer servers, data storage and disaster recovery at the Police Department; and Goffstown’s $25,763 share for a self-contained breathing apparatus grant of $1,099,734 for the surrounding area fire departments.
In addition, 16 zoning amendments will also appear on the ballot, including to allow wall signs in the Industrial Zone.
Town office candidates include the following:
Board of Selectmen — John Burt and Peter Georgantas are vying for one, three-year seat.
Budget Committee — Incumbent Elizabeth Dubrulle, David French, David Pierce and Pamela V. Manney are running for four, three-year terms.
Cemetery Trustee — Incumbent Linda Reynolds Naughton will be challenged by Dennis Sweeney and Kent H. Nolan for one, three-year seat.
Library Trustee — James Matthew Butcher will challenge incumbents Wayne Eddy, Jennifer Phillips and Mike Lawler for three, three-year seats.
Planning Board — Incumbents Mark Warden and John A. Hikel will run against James Raymond and Phil D’Avanza for two, three-year seats.
Sewer Commission — Stephen R. Crean is seeking re-election for another three-year term.
Supervisor of the Checklist — Denise Lemay is seeking re-election for another six years.
Town Clerk — Cathy Ball is running for re-election for three years.
Town Moderator — Rodney L. Stark is seeking re-election for another two years.
Trustee of Trust Funds — Earl S. Carrel is seeking re-election for three years.
Zoning Board of Adjustment — Incumbents Alan Yeaton and Catherine Whooten are seeking three-year terms.